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Face of the Franchise:  1974


Each season from the early days of the relocated Seattle Pilots through to the modern Miller Park era, we apply McLeam's Formula to the roster and cook up the player who represents the Brewers as the Face of the Franchise that year.

1974 Milwaukee Brewers

Ken Berry

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The Brewers finished 18th in winning percentage in 1974, and the 18th ranked player in WAR was center fielder Ken Berry.

Ken Berry was a two-time Gold Glove center fielder and all-star who played most of his 14-year career with the Chicago White Sox. He wasn't exceptional offensively, but he was one of the best defensive center fielders of his day. He was acquired in a trade with the California Angels after the '73 season. At age 33 he was the 4th outfielder and primarily a backup to young CF Bob Coluccio.

For a young outfielder 1974-berry-3_zpsb184815c_mediumthere was probably nobody better to learn from than Berry. He might not have been the best athlete to play the position, but he probably worked the hardest to be good at it. His nickname was "the Bandit" because he was well known for his awareness in the outfield, and prevented numerous home runs as a defender. In 2011 Michael Humphries identified him as one of the ten best defensive center fielders ever, and Berry was serious about his work:

"I worked on those leaping catches every single day. Every day I practiced stealing home runs. During batting practice I'd clear the other guys from center field and start working. I'd throw my hat down to give me an idea of where I'd started from and I'd just start going after fly balls. After I'd made the catch I could see how far I went to get them and that gave me an idea of what I could do in a game."

He also had a strong, accurate arm. In 1972 he had an amazing defensive season in CF, committing no errors in 282 chances, with 12 outfield assists and five double plays, and won his second gold glove despite playing only 116 games for the Angels. Even though he didn't have great speed he worked hard to make the most of what he had, with a career range factor of 2.316 (Carlos Gomez' career mark is 2.400).

After the season he was released by the Brewers and he played one last season in the sun with the Cleveland Indians before retiring as a player. After his playing days were done he became a minor league manager for the Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Padres, and Mets, and in 1988 helped as a baseball consultant on the movie Eight Men Out.

1974 FotF: Not sure exactly how Berry represents the '74 Brewers. The team was a mix of role players, aging veterans, and very young talent that would turn the franchise into a winning one in future seasons. One thing Berry did bring to the club was high expectations for himself, and maybe some of that rubbed off on his teammates. I'd like to think that maybe some of his work ethic and demand for excellence set a good example for the other young players. If you hit a fly ball to CF at County Stadium that year, it was probably an easy out.

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You can also read about 1973's Face of the Franchise Wilbur Howard here.

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